Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Mozart of Mushrooms
February 26, 2007 5:21 AM   Subscribe

Shrooming in Late Capitalism: The Way of the Truffle.
posted by peacay (29 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of particular note in the archives: Barbecue And The Best Food You've Never Had.
posted by peacay at 5:21 AM on February 26, 2007


You had to dog with this fungus, didn't you?
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:47 AM on February 26, 2007


Not another mushroom thread!
posted by TedW at 5:50 AM on February 26, 2007


Shrooming?
posted by three blind mice at 5:51 AM on February 26, 2007


“I have seen the last virgin woman truffle-hunter in all France…It was a secret hunt, and we had gathered secretly because the Church was opposed to women truffle-hunters.“ Without gallantry, the teller goes on to remark that the virgin was no longer young, but then, it was the last hunt, and she was the last virgin with “the true truffle-nose,” so the men made do with her. We are told how that nose quivered and turned red, how the virgin full of years ran “like a demented soul through the underbrush,” ran faster than she could be followed by men and boys, and came to a stop at a clearing around an old oak tree, there to point at the ground with her foot, “all the time trembling and sniffing like a sick dog.”

apparently the guillotine wasn't efficient enough.
posted by geos at 6:02 AM on February 26, 2007


Wow; having never tasted a truffle, I find my mind reeling at the thought. This is food porn of the highest caliber.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:08 AM on February 26, 2007


Too bad the author doesn't care about such pedestrian things as facts, passing on such tired bullshit as "special chambers – vomitoria – where diners would rid themselves of surfeit the better to take on still more surfeit" and the alleged conversation between Proust and Joyce (at least she throws a "reputed" in there, though only for Joyce's answer to an equally mythical question). Makes it hard to trust anything she says.
posted by languagehat at 6:34 AM on February 26, 2007


I enjoyed the essay, but am glad I am not the only person to roll their eyes at the misuse of vomitorium.
posted by TedW at 7:05 AM on February 26, 2007


vomitoria
posted by vronsky at 7:09 AM on February 26, 2007


damn you
posted by vronsky at 7:09 AM on February 26, 2007


Man, that is flagrant false advertising!
posted by Afroblanco at 7:14 AM on February 26, 2007


Hah-usually I am the one beat to the punch on something like this.
posted by TedW at 7:26 AM on February 26, 2007


I'm gonna have to agree with uncleozzy on this one; I've been a shroomaphile for a while now (since taking a few mycology courses in college), but have never had the pleasure of partaking in the holy grail of the mushroom world. I feel obligated now more than ever.
posted by smackwich at 7:47 AM on February 26, 2007


Mushroom Life
posted by taosbat at 8:29 AM on February 26, 2007


Christ, the overwrought prose of someone so dedicated to purplesence that they decry all attempts at editing or clarity as an attack on their poetic natures.
I was interested in truffles. I've eaten them, though apparently not those unearthed by a fecund she-boar in moonlight or whatever other ridiculous extremes that are necessary in order to lace my language with obsoletisms and pretentious Franco-pidgin twaddle.
Good day, sir.
posted by klangklangston at 8:51 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


A minor snark: truffles are ascomycetes, mushrooms are basidiomycetes. Truffles are not mushrooms, nor are they particularly closely related to them, except in that we, as a society, are hugely ignorant about fungi and pretty much lump them all together.
posted by agentofselection at 9:06 AM on February 26, 2007


uncleozzy: "Wow; having never tasted a truffle, I find my mind reeling at the thought. This is food porn of the highest caliber."

My thoughts exactly. As I read, I found myself wanting to make like a truffle-hunting pig, and snuffle around the nether-regions of the author.

Great stuff -- and I'm as far from a foodie as you can possibly imagine.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:24 AM on February 26, 2007


The saurian flicker of his cold pale eye should have warned me to desist, but it did not.

Thanks for the laugh.

Truffles are not mushrooms, nor are they particularly closely related to them, except in that we, as a society, are hugely ignorant about fungi and pretty much lump them all together.

Thank you.
posted by prostyle at 10:30 AM on February 26, 2007


So, are truffles any good? For real, I mean... I've never had one.
posted by grimcity at 10:31 AM on February 26, 2007


Truffles are incredibly distinctive in taste, and a little goes a long way. If you want to try a taste of truffles (and you should), or use some flavor in your cooking, I highly reccomend Ritrovo's Truffle and Salt, a truffle salt mixture reccomended by the New York Times food critics that has 40 grams of black truffle per 100 grams of salt. You can find a container of it for around $30, and we have used ours for 2 years and are less than half way through it.

As for what to do with it: scrambled eggs become insanely good, as do French Fries, with a dusting of truffle salt. And here is a good recipe from the Times for using truffle salt:

Truffled Egg Salad
8 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Truffle salt, to taste
8 slices white sandwich bread
1 clove garlic.

1. Fill a pan (large enough to fit the eggs in a single layer) with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Gently lower the eggs into the water and cook for 9 1/2 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggs. In a bowl, mash the eggs, then add the olive oil, mustard and mayonnaise and continue mashing until smooth and pale yellow. Season to taste with truffle salt.

2. Remove the crusts from the bread. Toast the slices, then cut in half diagonally. Rub each piece with the garlic clove, then spoon on the egg salad. Serves 4.

mmmmmmmmmmm
posted by blahblahblah at 12:18 PM on February 26, 2007


Addendum: I just noticed that Amazon sells Truffle and Salt through their marketplace.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:20 PM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anyone know any vendors they trust? I'm pretty sure I saw truffles in the Williams Sonoma catalog last fall but I didn't buy any. I'm willing to trust them next time the season comes around. But from what I can find elsewhere online, the prices can vary quite a bit ($57 for 1 oz of Italian Black Summer as compared to $72 for 7 oz of French Black Summer). I figure this has to do with quality but how would one know the difference having never tried them before?

It does sound expensive. At an ounce of truffles for two meals, that's about $30 per meal in truffles alone. That's expensive relative to regular food prices, but for a rare delicacy enjoyed once a year (if that) it's not too bad.

I imagine on first trying a truffle I will take the following advice:

A co-owner of The Four Seasons in New York, Julian Niccolini, takes a different approach. “Eat the truffle as you would an apple,” he counsels.

on preview: thanks for vendor link blahblahblah.
posted by effwerd at 12:25 PM on February 26, 2007


Oh, missed this in the article, which more likely explains the variance in prices:

In a middling year, desert truffles can cost about $100 a kilo, the price fluctuating wildly with supply.
posted by effwerd at 12:39 PM on February 26, 2007


So, are truffles any good? For real, I mean... I've never had one.

Truffles are quite lovely.

They're expensive, but not as bad as this article makes it sound. The thing is, they are very light, and you don't need much of them, so a kilo is an almost comically absurd quantity of truffle. A bit like giving the price of steak by saying what a whole cow costs.

Now I want a black truffle omelet.
posted by PEAK OIL at 1:06 PM on February 26, 2007


I once attended a lecture by a food historian from Oxford. He said that the reason we are so attracted to truffles is that they mimic the scent of a sexually aroused female. ymmv.
posted by vronsky at 1:27 PM on February 26, 2007


they mimic the scent of a sexually aroused female.

That explains why early truffle gatherers used to dig them up with their erect penises.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:52 PM on February 26, 2007


lol :)

great read, thanks for the link.

in the mean time i'll have to make do with my wine-barrel soaked, smoked field mushrooms, which are wonderfully decadent but now seem somewhat less satisfying!
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 2:19 PM on February 26, 2007


"If a rich person made you a truffle tribute such as Lucrezia Borgia received 500 years ago, and you understood that it was both pricey and rare, would any arousal you felt on nibbling at the tribute be necessarily specific to the giver? Perhaps it would all depend on just how much money was being spent."

Somebody I know was offered truffles during a meal where he was offered a law firm job.

He must have had a seriously woody for that.
posted by pwedza at 8:33 PM on February 26, 2007


effwerd : It does sound expensive. At an ounce of truffles for two meals, that's about $30 per meal in truffles alone.

It all depends upon the truffle quality - for good ones you are not talking about ounces. A truffle the size of a large grape sliced turned into in paper thin slices can give simple pasta for 4 a heady erotic perfume.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 11:41 PM on February 26, 2007


« Older Use this guide to help you become familar with the...   |   60 years ago today,... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments